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New Tax on Alcohol and Cigarettes to Hit Galveston Cruisers

Heads up Galveston cruisers. If you’re bringing back alcohol or cigarettes from you cruise, then you will be a little bit lighter in the pocketbook.

Starting on January 4, 2014, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will begin charging “personal importation taxes” on cruisers debarking in Galveston.

Up until now cruisers were allowed to bring back small amounts of alcohol and cigarettes for personal use without paying any extra tax. This allowed you to buy from the duty-free shops aboard the ship (or buy at a port of call) and save a significant amount on taxes. Now passengers will be charged a nominal fee for whatever they bring in.

For alcohol, the tax is fairly small — $3.75 for a liter of booze. For cigarettes, it is a pricey $1.50 per pack.

Below we have a full breakdown of all the taxes from the TABC’s website:


While the new tax hits Galveston in January, Bayport cruisers will have a little extra “tax free” time. The TABC has said they plan to start taxing there in the fall of 2014.

9 Responses so far.

  1. tim says:

    As bad as the mob wants there cut. Greed

  2. George says:

    Norwegian gave me a bottle of champagne but I didn’t open it. I’m from Pennsylvania so I got off the cruise ship and went to the airport. Texas charged me $3.25 just to transport the champagne through their state. It’s just robbery so no more cruises out of Texas for me. I’m serious. Sorry, Norwegian.

  3. Bruce Anderson says:

    I agree 100% with above commentator George, I just returned from a cruise on Norwegian cruise lines out of Bayport, I purchased 2 bottles of a liquo

    r on the ship and 2 bottles of contreau in Roataan, I had to pay $15 to the state of Texas as I was leaving the terminal, what a rip off. I spent 2 nights in hotels plus spent money for meals and various others things while in Texas. I will never ever step foot in the state of Texas again, when I cruise there are plenty of other places that are much more consumer friendly. By the way, I paid just over 22% taxes on 2 of the bottles and 17% on the other 2. These items were not purchased in Texas, not used in Texas, how do you justify robbing me?

  4. John j says:

    Just came back from a 7 day cruise on carnival freedom thru Galveston port. I had purchased two 750ml bottle of alcohol a d two half litre bottles of Kahlua from the duty free shop on the ship. They told me you are allowed 2 bottles per person duty free. I was travelling with my wife. Two half liter bottles were packed in our bag.

    As I was getting out of the port, a port authority asked me to pay tax for the bottles
    I am carrying. The lady inside the counter asked me size of bottles. Told her 750 ml per bottle. The person standing next to her rudely said 1.5 litre, as if he knows better than me.

    She told me I have to pay 14.50 altogether.
    I was going to pay with credit card, as I had no cash with me. I was told that their system is down.

    I had to walk to my wife who was standing several feet away to get cash. After paying money, lady at the counter gave me 4 stickers and told me I can stick them on bottlex when I get home. During the entire process, the man standing next to her was laughing a day making some ridiculing gestures. There was no receipt for my payment.

    As the Galveston customs decided to ruin our vacation experience by overcharging and harassment, I checked the alcohol import duty in Texas. Accordi g to their web site, 1 ltre person is free. Still they double charged me for what I am allowed to carry.

    I have gone cruises from several other ports and never had such a bad experience.


  5. Paul says:

    Houston we have a problem
    I feel the same way,Florida has great cruises
    You are out Houston

  6. Bonaccorse says:

    They are still charing that Tax. I had to pay $63.00 in Texas Taxes and if you disembark in Houston (norwegian) you still pay the Tax. What is worse is the Crusieships do not notify its passengers of this Tax until the night before you land. Only the night before will they give you two customs forms..One for US Customs and one for Texas Taxes. Norwegian fails to adequately notify its passengers with visual signage located prominently inside their Duty Free shop or on their Ship television. Of course not, why scare off paying customer at their Duty/Tax free on board stores..
    My last cruise out of Texas

  7. Helen says:

    Purely robbery from the State of Texas. I blame my cruise RCCL for not telling the passengers. They were so eager to sell “duty fee alcohol” onboard, but failed to tell us about the imposed robbery tax from Texas. I was dumb founded when I was stopped by the TABC after clearing customs. I told them that I’m a Canadian and I was heading straight to the airport, showing them my boarding pass …they didn’t care. I will NEVER step foot in Texas again.

  8. Galveston Cruise Tips says:

    How much was the tax?

  9. Johnny says:

    What’s the purpose of “DUTY FREE” alcohol if you have to pay taxes on it? Then it is not “DUTY FREE”. Where is the logic? These shops should be called “DUTY DUE LATER”. I wish I would have the choice to cruise from another state but I live in TX. I wonder if they just make these rules overnight… or WE THE PEOPLE vote for them…
    One more thing: Last time I bought “DUTY FREE” whiskey it was diluted with water. I usually keep it in the freezer for that smooth oily feel. This one had formed ice inside.

    So if they rob you like this, wouldn’t it be FAIR to just tell them you don’t have any when they ask you?

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